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September 7, 2011
NY Times erases Arab aggression from the Green Line's history
There are two book-ends to the 1949 armistice line, also known as the Green Line.
The line was established at the end of Israel's War of Independence when hostilities ceased between Israel and a coalition of Arab countries, which tried but failed in a concerted war of aggression to wipe the nascent Jewish state off the map.
The other book-end is the 1967 Six-Day War, precipitated by concerted Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian aggression, again with the aim of eliminating Israel. That war ended with a smashing Israeli victory, which erased the Green Line, as Israel captured the West Bank, the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
This left Israel waiting for Arab peace partners to emerge, ready, willing and able to cut land-for-peace deals. It worked with Egypt, which got Sinai back in exchange for a permanent peace agreement. It worked less well with Gaza, which Ariel Sharon vacated in hopes of creating the start of a peaceful Palestine. The other real estate captured by Israel in 1967 still awaits genuine conditions for peace deals with Syria and the Palestinians.
That is a short, basic summation of the 18-year history of the Green Line -- from Israel overcoming Arab aggression in 1949 until Israel's outright defeat of Arab aggression in 1967.
But that's not the way New York Times correspondent Isabel Kershner tracks the history of the Green Line in a lengthy Sept. 7 article illustrated by copious photos that together take up more than half of page A4 and more than half of page A8 ("Elusive Line Defines Lives in Israel and the West Bank")
Kershner, in an up-close and personal travelogue along the Green Line, variously describes it as Israel's "pre-1967 boundary," the "1967 borders," a line "delineated as Israeli and Jordanian officers negotiated an armistice in the months after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War." However, the fact that this was a war initiated by half a dozen Arab armies intent on destroying Israel goes completely missing from Kershner's piece. So, too, does the historical fact that the Green Line owed its existence to Arab aggression overcome by Israel, which had vainly pleaded for Arab acceptance of the original UN two-state solution.
Instead, Kershner focuses on personal dislocations and grievances on either side of the Green Line -- but primarily on the Palestinian side. While Israelis hardly know or pay attention to the exact location of the Green Line, she writes, "for Palestinian officials emboldened by the rise of Palestinian nationalism, what began as a temporary cease-fire line has become holy."
"All along the line are stories of Palestinian resentment and nostalgia for what was left behind," she adds.
Very touching. But beside the point, a point which Kershner completely misses -- that when there's a war of aggression and the aggressor loses, geography changes. Alsace has gone back and forth between Germany and France. It's now in France only because Hitler was defeated in World War II. The Austrian province of Sud-Tyrol is now in Italy, renamed Alto Adige, because Italy was on the victorious Allied side in World War I against German-Austrian aggression.
On a personal note, my mother was born in Poland and my father in Romania. Both their birthplaces are now in Ukraine because the Red Army re-jiggered the map of Eastern Europe in the course of defeating Hitler's aggressive Wehrmacht.
Nobody -- certainly not Kershner and the New York Times -- makes a big deal about all such geographic changes resulting from varying fortunes of aggressors and defenders in wartime.
But let Israel defeat aggressive enemies and it alone is put in the dock for holding on to some of its gains in battle.
It's a perplexing exception, well summed up by Golda Meir in her autobiography: "When Arab statesmen insist that Israel withdraw to the pre-June 1967 lines, one can only ask: If these lines are so sacred to the Arabs, why was the Six-Day War launched to destroy them?" A question that would never occur to Kershner and the New York Times.
As far as the Times is concerned, everybody else's rules don't apply to the Jewish state.
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